We have an identity crisis. Call it what you will, a post-modern, existential, millennial crisis of self, we are all asking ourselves: Which Game of Thrones character am I?
Ok, in all seriousness. The rash of Buzzfeed, Playbuzz, Quizmodo, etc “Personality Quizzes” that promise to tell you who you really are, in terms of your favorite fictional paradigm, is really just the latest symptom of our human desire to know ourselves, to approve of ourselves. “Ugh, I got Pansy Parkinson? Are you serious? I wanted to be Bellatrix Lestrange!”
For those seeking to understand themselves in less frivolous terms, we might seek to discover if we’re Type A or Type B, or which of the four humors we are, or, in terms of the perennial, inescapable, enduring favorite: What’s my Myers-Briggs type?
I’ve long been a fan of the Myers-Briggs. It’s helped me understand certain aspects of my personality (like, why I’m contemplating the archaeological record that will be left by our apartment building while everyone else is talking about what to get for dinner) and also how to better know and love the people around me. For instance, why my dad and I connect over history and science fiction, or why it’s OK for me to want to stay home and read when everybody else goes to a football game.
According to Myers-Briggs, I’m an INTP. There’s parts of that that delight me. I’m the eccentric absent-minded professor? Awesome! But recently I’ve come to a point where I want to say, Enough. Myers-Briggs and I need to take some time apart.
Myers-Briggs is like pointing to a blue-and-green striped shirt and saying “That shirt is blue.”
Ok, yes, there is a lot of blue on it, but there’s also the same amount of green. And, it’s not a solid color shirt – it’s a pattern. Describing the shirt as “blue,” while not entirely incorrect, gives you the wrong picture of the shirt. You hear “blue shirt” and you think of a shirt that is blue, not blue-and-green striped. You could also describe a blue shirt with white flowers as blue. So now you have two blue shirts – that are fundamentally different! And what if the blue shirt with white flowers is a sleeveless chambray blouse and the striped shirt is a longsleeved knit?
Excuse me, I think maybe I need to go to TJ Maxx…
Let me explain to you why being called “blue” when you are in fact, blue-and-green striped, can be a harmful thing. For one, others start to believe you’re blue. “Oh, you know Corinne, she’s blue, so, we should ask her to do this blue thing. She wouldn’t want to do the green thing.” Also, you start to believe you’re blue. “Yeah, I’m a blue person…green? That’s weird. Why is that green? I’m blue. That doesn’t fit, that’s not me.”
Why did I solidly know myself as deeply passionate, adventurous, sensitive, artistic, and empathetic before I learned that I was really an INTP? Why was I wild and emotional for the 18 years before I heard of Myers-Briggs, but now that I’m an INTP I’m Spock, or Data?
Ok, so my identity problems are not Myers-Briggs’ fault. But Myers-Briggs has been my enabler, has been a neat little box that I, so staunchly anti-box, have allowed myself to live in, have slowly shrunk to fit in.
For the time being, I’m saying Bye-Bye, Myers-Briggs. I want to know myself on my own terms, not on someone else’s. I’m on a journey to feel like myself, and you are a big damn suitcase that I am not going to carry around.